at 3.38am EDT
The Scottish government will scrap free university tuition for EU students next year – one of its key pledges after the 2016 referendum – as institutions continue to cope with a financial burden from the pandemic
Higher education minister Richard Lochhead said ministers had taken the decision with a “heavy heart”, blaming the “stark reality” of Brexit for the decision.
Referring to the financial stresses brought about by the impact of Covid-19, he said the money saved – which he estimated to be up to £19m for 2021-22 – will be kept within the higher education sector and the number of university places for Scottish students will rise as a result.
Students from EU countries have been eligible for free tuition since fees were scrapped, as is still the case for Scottish students.
Lochhead said: “That is the stark reality of Brexit and a painful reminder that our country’s decisions are affected by UK policies that we do not support and did not vote for. Our internationalism remains a key strength of higher education in Scotland.
“EU students who have already started their studies, or who start this autumn, will not be affected and will still be tuition-free for the entirety of their course.”
at 3.38am EDT
Theatres and music venues in England will be able to host physically distanced outdoor performances from Saturday 11 July under new government guidance, but industry figures are calling for more clarity on when full-capacity indoor performances can return.
The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced the relaxing of restrictions at Thursday’s 5pm press conference where he said performances can now take place as long as they are “outside and with a limited and socially distanced audience”.
“As I’ve seen for myself at the Royal Academy this morning, the National Gallery and as we’ll see shortly from the National Museums Liverpool, our cultural institutions are beginning to welcome back visitors,” he said.
“I’m really urging people to get out there and to play their part, buy the tickets for outdoor plays and music recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses.”
at 3.38am EDT
at 2.56am EDT
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of coronavirus developments in the UK.
It’s a big day for the travel and hospitality sector – as well as would-be holidaymakers – with quarantine rules for people entering Britain from countries deemed “safe” being relaxed today, though the Scottish government is retaining a 14-day quarantine restriction for travellers from Spain.
Meanwhile, the accelerator is being pushed down on lockdown easing following the announcement that gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres in England will be allowed to reopen within the next two weeks.
In Scotland, the wearing of masks becomes mandatory today.
At around midday, Boris Johnson will take questions from the public as he hosts another edition of his so-called “People’s PMQs”, answering pre-selected questions about the government’s handling of the pandemic and other issues.
All of the above takes place against a bleak economic background, with many today digesting the latest job losses announced yesterday at Boots and John Lewis, who have plans to cut 5,300 jobs and close stores.
at 2.57am EDT